Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Capacity Expansion in Heiligenkreuz

 Expansion of capacities for premium specialty fibers by 25,000 tons
 Investments of about EUR 70 mn over the next twelve months
 Project highlights strategic importance of Heiligenkreuz for TENCEL® premium fibers

Heiligenkreuz – The Lenzing Group is expanding production capacities for its specialty fiber TENCEL® at its site in Heiligenkreuz, Burgenland. After obtaining all required approvals and permits, the expansion project was initiated today, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Lenzing CEO Stefan Doboczky, along with Bernd Zauner and Dieter Eichinger, the two managing directors of Lenzing Fibers, Burgenland’s Provincial Governor Hans Niessl and Alexander Petschnig, the Regional Minister for Economic Affairs.
“We will invest about EUR 70 mn over the coming twelve-month period to expand production capacities for our high-quality botanic specialty fibers”, Doboczky says. “With this investment we are responding to strong global demand for new types of TENCEL® premium fibers such as the RefibraTM fiber, using cotton scraps from the manufacturing of cotton garments and wood as raw materials. This fiber makes a widely-recognized contribution to the circular economy in the textile industry. The fiber was very successfully launched on the market in February by our strategic partner Inditex in its Zara stores”, he adds.

Annual production capacities for fibers will be increased by about 25,000 tons as a result of the investment. The fibers will be available to customers starting at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

“We launched the production of lyocell fibers in Heiligenkreuz 20 years ago, and have expanded the site to make it to one of the largest industrial employer in Southern Burgenland. The new investments comprise a further important milestone in our success story, and will provide added impetus to growth in a structurally weak region”, states Zauner.

Lenzing put its first industrial-scale lyocell fiber production facility into operation 20 years ago. Today the fibers are sold under the TENCEL® brand name. A recent study carried out under the scientific supervision of Friedrich Schneider, Professor at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, concluded that the Lenzing plant in Heiligenkreuz generates considerable regional economic effects. In addition to the approximately 230 jobs at Lenzing Fibers itself, around 940 additional jobs are secured on a long-term basis thanks to the company’s economic activities in the region. The additional value creation equals about EUR 102 mn per year.

In its 20-year history, the Heiligenkreuz plant has sold close to 700,000 tons of fibers and exported the majority across the globe, as far away as China, Korea and Japan. The factory in Heiligenkreuz has been continuously expanded due to rapidly growing demand. Up until now, Lenzing has invested a total of roughly EUR 750 mn to build and extend production capacities for TENCEL® fibers. In addition to the Heiligenkreuz facility, these specialty fibers are also manufactured at the Lenzing site, in Mobile (USA) and Grimsby (Great Britain) (where the original Tencel process developed by Courtaulds first went into production in the 1990's. Ed.)

The lyocell technology applied in Heiligenkreuz is characterized by a very good environmental performance. The cellulose fibers are derived from the renewable raw material wood in a closed-loop process, resulting in a minimal amount of environmentally harmful emissions. Due to their outstanding properties, TENCEL® fibers boast a particularly broad range of applications, both in the world of fashion as well as technical areas and nonwovens. Lenzing is the leading producer of lyocell fibers by far, and is continually upgrading and refining this technology.

Source: Lenzing PR

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lenzing invests in new TENCEL® fiber plant in the USA

 State-of-the-art 90,000 tons TENCEL® fiber plant to be built in Mobile, Alabama
 Investment of EUR 275 mn – operations to start in the first quarter of 2019
 Strengthening of technical expertise by creating a new Management Board Role – Heiko Arnold appointed Chief Technology Officer

Lenzing - The Lenzing Group aims to increase the share of specialty fibers as a percentage of revenue to 50 percent by 2020. Following the previously announced expansion plans for Lenzing, Heiligenkreuz (Austria) and Grimsby (Great Britain), the Supervisory Board of Lenzing AG approved yesterday the investment for a TENCEL® fiber plant in the USA. Lenzing now plans to construct a state-of-the-art plant with a production capacity of 90,000 tons per year at its site in Mobile, Alabama. The new facility will be the largest TENCEL® fiber plant in the world, it will set a new milestone in the history of lyocell fibers. The investment volume will total USD 293 mn (EUR 275 mn). The new plant will utilize the latest technological standards and is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2019.

The Lenzing Group currently has a worldwide production capacity of 222,000 tons per year of TENCEL® fibers. The new plant in Mobile plus the already announced debottlenecking projects at the other TENCEL® fiber sites will increase the total TENCEL® fiber capacity by more than 50 percent by 2019. The decision to build this plant in the US was supported by the good infrastructure at our Mobile site and attractive energy costs.
“This investment represents another major milestone in the implementation of our corporate strategy sCore TEN. It will bring us a big step further to reach our target of 50 percent revenue from specialty fibers by 2020“, explained Lenzing CEO Stefan Doboczky. “This expansion also underscores our commitment to all our TENCEL® fiber customers, who continue to make their products even more sustainable using TENCEL® fiber, the world’s most sustainable botanic fiber,“ added Doboczky.

The disciplined implementation of the Lenzing’s expansion program is essential for driving the Lenzing Group’s organic growth agenda. Therefore it was decided to create a new Management Board role, pooling together the key technical, operational and engineering responsibilities. The Supervisory Board of the company appointed today Heiko Arnold as the new Chief Technology
Officer. In addition to a strong scientific and technical education, Arnold has gained many years of experience with BASF in the realization of major investment projects and continuous operational improvements as well as extensive know-how in Research & Development. He will be responsible for all technical departments in the Lenzing Group.

“We are pleased to welcome Heiko Arnold, a further expert with broad international experience, to Lenzing’s Management Board team“, commented Hanno Bästlein, Chairman of the Lenzing Supervisory Board. “Lenzing is on a successful, dynamic growth course with the development and implementation of the new sCore TEN corporate strategy, and that makes an increase in the Management Board to four persons a reasonable step. His 15 years of experience in Asia, in the realization of major investment projects and in operational excellence make Arnold a perfect match for the challenges faced by Lenzing“, explained Bästlein.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lenzing Invests More Than EUR 100 Million in New Production Capacities for Specialty Fibers in Austria

The Lenzing Group is expanding its capacities for specialty fibers. Particularly the importance of the manufacturing facility in Heiligenkreuz, Burgenland, is underpinned. Further investments will be made as well at the production site in Lenzing. “We will invest more than 100 million Euro over the next 20 months to expand production capacities for our high-quality botanic fibers, 70% at the Heiligenkreuz site and 30% at Lenzing”, says Lenzing’s CEO Stefan Doboczky. “Given the strong market demand this expansion will help our customers in their growth plans as well as expanding our global market leadership position for speciality fibers.”

As part of its new group strategy sCore TEN, Lenzing set the target of increasing the share of specialty fibers as a proportion of its total revenue to 50% by the year 2020. Specialty fibers currently account for 41.7% of revenue. The planned capacity expansion of 35,000 tons of specialty fibers at the sites in Heiligenkreuz and Lenzing, as well as at the site in Grimsby, Great Britain, is the first step of the announced speciality fiber expansion program of Lenzing AG. Customers will be able to take advantage of some 10,000 tons of specialty fiber capacity already by the end of this year.

The major part of investments will be carried out in the years 2016 and 2017. The Lenzing Group will fully utilize its in house engineering competence, supported by local construction companies and suppliers for these projects. The investment in Heiligenkreuz will create 25 new jobs (full-time equivalents). Lenzing AG decided to start its investment program for speciality fibers at its existing sites in Austria and the UK as it allows fast capacity ramp up. The strategic role of the Heiligenkreuz site as a key location of new types of TENCEL® premium fibers developed developed by researchers and application engineers in Lenzing in cooperation with customers is strongly underpinned.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lenzing uses post-consumer recycled cotton in blend with woodpulp to make Tencel

Lenzing is introducing a newly developed TENCEL® fiber, which combines pulp from cotton fabric waste and wood pulp cellulose in order to drive circular economy solutions in the textile industry.

Lenzing is the first manufacturer worldwide to offer man-made cellulosic fibers incorporating recycled materials on a commercial scale.

The fiber will be marketed in a unique way, sold to retailers and brands—rather than yarn or fabric manufacturers—who will then produce their garment collections in a sustainable fashion. This cooperation with leaders in retail will ensure cooperation and transparency in the textile value chain; in addition, a new type of identification is being employed to ensure that the TENCEL® fibers used in the garment are the most sustainable ones.

Robert van de Kerkhof, CCO of Lenzing, said, “For Lenzing, developing circular business models in the fashion industry ensures the decoupling of business growth from pressure on ecological resource consumption. It reduces the need to extract additional virgin resources from nature, and reduces the net impact on ecological resources.”

An additional announcement regarding the new TENCEL® fiber came from Spanish multinational clothing company Inditex. At the company’s Annual General Meeting last Tuesday, the company presented its 2016-2020 Environmental Strategy Plan, which outlined the use of the new fiber as a means of closing the loop.

The Inditex program will begin by contributing about 500 tons of post-industrial textile waste for use in the new TENCEL® fiber, with the aim of reaching 3,000 tons within a few years.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cellulosics and Nonwovens: Update since 2000

The following update was prepared at the request of Bruce Townsend for his after-lunch speech at the Courtaulds Coventry Senior Pensioners Luncheon on 17th March.  Here's a lightly edited version:

The decline in man-made Cellulosics output during the last third of the 20th C was reversed and since 2000 the production of viscose staple has more than doubled.  It is now between 5.5 and 6 million tonnes/year with more capacity planned. The vast majority of the growth has been in Asia.

Courtaulds had hoped that environmental considerations would mean Tencel would get the lion’s share of the growth* but this did not happen under Lenzing.  Apparently they didn’t want to lose control of their Tencel know-how and the rate of expansion required in Asia meant a rate of Tencel plant scale-up greater than Lenzing were comfortable with.  

So, viscose was the beneficiary of rapidly increasing demand for rayon and the scale of the new viscose investments proved surprising to anyone involved with the old Courtaulds plants. (3x-5x the productivity of Courtaulds Mobile).

Tencel  stagnated for 10 years after Grimsby SL3 started.  Mobile SL1 was closed down.  Then the Mobile, Grimsby and Heiligenkreuz plants were debottlenecked.  SL1 was restarted with a viscose wash belt to make wet-cut staple.  Lenzing’s first new Tencel plant – a 67,000 tonner built on the Lenzing site in 2013-14 is now fully operational although its output is apparently being sold into pre-blends with cotton and viscose.

Of the world 2016 fibre capacity of about 100,000,000 tpa, Tencel is now around 220,000 tpa, viscose around 6,000,000 tpa, cotton around 25,000,000 tpa and polyester around 60,000,000 tpa.  Further growth in polyester and cellulosics is expected, but new comfortable polyesters will probably mean the cellulosics proportion will be lower.
Overall, in the absence of any hard information from Lenzing, we guess about a third of the pre-2000 Tencel capacity goes into Nonwovens if A100 production is excluded.  Apparel remains the main market with Home Textiles also doing well.

The main Tencel nonwoven market is disposable wipes: Tencel/PP or PET blends are hydroentangled into baby wipes but also made flushable via the wet-laid route.  One major US supermarket chain uses 1000’s of tonnes of  100% Tencel in wet-wipes.  Electrical papers, which like the wipes, Courtaulds Research started to develop in the late 80’s, are now successful in battery separators and energy recovery systems for hybrid  and electric cars.

World nonwoven production growth since 2000 has continued as expected, reaching 10 million tonnes last year, a million tonnes of this being viscose.  Spun-laid processes remain the most important technology thanks to polypropylene’s continued dominance of the diaper component market.  Carded nonwovens – the sector where rayon predominated but was losing share last century – has been transformed by fast cards and low-cost hydroentanglement bonding machines and has grown to be comparable in size with spun-laid.  The technology continues to be a major user of viscose for wipes, viscose usage in Europe having trebled since 2000 (to 150,000 tonnes/year)

Kelheim Fibres, the sole survivor of Courtaulds Viscose operations, has been expanded to about 80,000 tpy capacity and concentrates on specialities for nonwovens (Galaxy and Viloft).  It continues to dominate the US and EU tampon fibre market and has good prospects in Latin America and (longer term) in Asia.  It recently underlined its “Speciality Fibre Producer” status by experimentally introducing a series of special viscose fibres to the market – most of which would be instantly recognised by anyone who happened to be in Courtaulds Viscose Research during the 70’s and 80’s.  (SI fibre, Hollow Viloft, PM1, PM2, alloy fibres etc.)

Lenzing will soon have a million tonne/year rayon staple capacity – up from 300,000 tonnes in 2000.

The world production of dissolving pulp is now around 6.5 million tonnes/year. SAPPI, who bought Courtaulds SAICCOR dissolving pulp business in 1989 now produces around 1.4 million tonnes of dissolving pulp, and China produces a similar amount, some of this from bamboo and some from cotton.

Calvin Woodings
March 2016

  The growth was broadly in line with Tim Johnson’s expectations based on his 1989 Comfort Gap scenario.  This predicted that global demographic and personal wealth trends would drive an increase in demand for textiles which could only be met by rapid expansion of synthetic and man-made cellulosic fibres in unison.  (Comfortable Cotton's ability to expand would be restricted due to land/food shortages and the absence of further prospects for cotton yield increases.)